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Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Implementation and Effectiveness for Protection of Water Resources

Watershed cooage imagesAs defined in the Clean Water Act, Best Management Practices (BMPs) are precautionary measures designed to protect water resources. Timber harvesting activities have been exempt from the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act provided that BMPs are used and are effective in protecting water quality and aquatic systems. All states have adopted recommended BMPs for timber harvesting and forest management activities that have the potential to impact water quality. Consistent and reliable data on the use and effectiveness of BMPs remains the most important evidence of a State’s enforcement of and compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Evaluating the Implementation & Effectiveness of BMPs for Water Resource Protection

Evaluating the Implementation & Effectiveness of BMPs for Water Resource Protection

NA BMP Monitoring Manual

The NA BMP monitoring protocol was designed as an economical, standardized and repeatable monitoring process that could be easily incorporated into State BMP programs. Along with technical assistance, enforcement, and training, the Protocol can be an integral part of State Forestry BMP Program implementation. The NA BMP Monitoring Protocol has been adopted for use by all NA States and endorsed by the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters. The monitoring process is fully automated, from data gathering through report generation, in order to provide measured data and ease of use.

The NA Best Management Practices (BMP) Monitoring Manual is divided into two companion volumes: the Field Guide and the Desk Guide.


Field Guide

thumbnail photo of Field Guide coverThe Field Guide contains operational procedures for field data collection including education, training and equipment needs, procedures for identifying and choosing sample units, record keeping, protocol questions with explanations and definitions, and supporting information useful in the field. Data is collected using a branched question set designed to efficiently address those areas of the timber harvest with the greatest potential to impact water resources, for example: water crossings; haul roads, log landings, skid trails; chemical pollutants; buffer/filter strips; and wetlands.

The protocol was developed to meet the following needs:
  • Document the use and effectiveness of BMPs in protecting water resources during forest harvesting operations.
  • Assess water resource protection based on the effectiveness of a collective set of BMPs rather than individual prescriptive methods or practices.
  • Increase credibility through the measurement of results as opposed to observation and anecdotal assessments.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement in water resource protection by identifying causes of BMP failure and focusing agency and industry BMP training programs.
  • Facilitate self-assessment of water resource protection efforts by States, industry, and other forestry organizations, and encourage more frequent monitoring.
  • Facilitate green certification.

The protocol software developed for field data collection was designed for use with a variety of inexpensive pocket PC units or more costly GPS units. Windows Mobile software is used to link and upload data from field units to a desktop computer. Microsoft Access, Excel, and Word—inexpensive software programs commonly available in forestry offices—are used to analyze the data and produce an automated data summary. GPS data recorded during the field monitoring process allows geospatial analysis of monitoring data.

Field Guide Downloads:


Desk Guide

thumbnail photo of Desk Guide coverThe Desk Guide contains detailed information on sample design and location, quality control procedures, and step by step guidance on the use of data storage, analysis and reporting software developed specifically for use with the NA monitoring protocol. This BMP Monitoring Information System (BMP-MIS) links Microsoft Access, Excel and Word in a graphical user interface to that facilitates rapid analysis and report generation by users. A standard set of data queries and a standardized report format is provided. The software allows reports to be customized by adding interpretation, photos, maps or by designing custom data queries.

Desk Guide Downloads:


Completed BMP Monitoring Reports

BMP Information and Useful Links

  • Forestry BMPs – A national clearinghouse for forestry BMP information sponsored by NCASI – the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement. Excellent source for state and federal program information and scientific publications.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Forestry Site – EPA guidance on management measures for water resource protection and other links to information.
  • Guidance on Low Water Crossings – This Forest Service guide includes engineering, biological, and geomorphic aspects of low water crossings and focuses on how to select and design structures that minimize impacts on streams.



Page Contact: Keith Tackett
May 18, 2011 12:25 PM